Let's pave more stuff; that'll fix everything

By Howard Troxler, Times Columnist

Published Monday, March 16, 2009

In the good old days, from the dawn of history until the early 1980s, you could build just about whatever you wanted in this state.

You bought your land and divided it up. You got a routine okay from your city or county, which was already in your pocket anyway.

You knocked down the trees and filled the swamp. You threw up your houses by the thousands and poured cheap asphalt streets, designed to fall apart in a couple of years, which was okay since you were "giving" them to the government anyway.

Now and then, they made you pretend to build your own little sewer plant, or put up a stoplight where you were pouring traffic onto a crowded highway, which gave you the chance to gripe about how accommodating you were.

Everybody made money.

Then the whiners and the government started getting in the way.

By the early 1980s, enough complainers in Florida were saying: We don't want to live like this. We don't want to live in two-lane traffic jams and cheap houses that flood in a heavy rain because they were built, you know, in a swamp.

The biggest change of all came in 1985, when Florida passed a law called the Growth Management Act. This law had lots of kooky ideas such as, if you're going to build something, you have to make sure that there are enough water supplies, roads, schools and such to handle the impact you are causing.

Ridiculous! You know what you get when there is too much government regulation? The clear result of the 1985 law was …

The recession of 2009.

That's right. Just ask folks in Tallahassee. We've gotten too tough on developers in this state, and we went and caused our current recession.

I know that some people claim the recession was kicked off by the collapse of the national housing bubble and shaky mortgages. But we in Florida know the real reason: too much regulation.

Fortunately, our Florida Legislature is on top of this problem this year.

The Legislature understands what Florida needs to do to get back to the good old days, when all you needed to build were a deed and a shovel.

We need to get rid of the state Department of Community Affairs, which is the main state regulator of big growth. Once we get that roadblock out of the way, we can get these decisions back into the hands of local Boss Hoggs, where they belong.

We shouldn't stop there, of course. Government regulation everywhere is the problem. That's why we should kill outfits like the Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission. We need to get rid of impact fees so that developers can build without regard to the effects of their growth.

So, I strongly encourage you to call your legislators to tell them you want all this.

Tell them, "I want you to get rid of the Department of Community Affairs, and any other outfit that protects the environment or quality of life.

"I want developers to be able to build wherever and whatever they want. I want them to be able to pave wetlands, drive out wildlife, tax the water supply and crowd the highways. That's the only way we're going to get out of this recession."

Unless you don't want all that, and think Florida should build a smarter future, instead of just renewing its addiction to wild, unrestrained growth.

In which case, you might want to give 'em a call anyway.


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